Archie Comics Nancy Silberkleit’s “Kindness Works” project challenges perceptions about autism

With a new school year for all around the globe, we thought it would be a good idea to spotlight Kindness Works again, a project from Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit, , a comic story focusing on Scarlet, an autistic student at Riverdale High. Nancy has just released a new version of the comic, which includes some thoughts on Scarlet from Sierra, a young teen that is autistic.

Kindness Works - Scarlet (Archie Comics)

As we previously reported, the story “Kindness Works” was released last year to mark World Autism Awareness Day.as a special project by Nancy, working with comics writer Ray Felix, artist Fernando Ruiz,  inker and colourist Dheeraj Mishra from India and letterer Andrew Thomas, from Canada.

Kindness Works - Scarlet - 2020

“Kindness Works” is not sold in stores: she distributes it herself, one issue at a time. To obtain a copy, email her at Nancy.Archiecomics@gmail.com.

In “Kindness Works” there’s a  new student at Riverdale High, Scarlet, who’s autistic. Some of the gang are mean to her, and must learn the errors of their ways. Big Moose, who himself has a learning disability, is seen here defending her.

“The latest edition of Kindness Works includes a new page is from a young teen that is autistic,” Nancy, who has travelled the globe with her “Kindness Works” message, tells downthetubes. “I love Sierra ‘s words and thoughts, as I launch Scarlet around the globe I meet more and more autistic folks on many spectrums but they all share one thing they desire friends and of course kindness!

“I feel adding this page keeps the message real on Inclusion, Kindness and that autism is just a small part of who a person is.

Part of Sierra's message in the new edition of "Scarlet"

Part of Sierra’s message in the new edition of “Scarlet”

“Scarlet Saltee, as we all know is a fictional comic character in Archie Comics,” Nancy continues. “Her character as an autistic person with the cast of other Archie comics characters. Scarlet brings another dimension of relevancy to the Archie comic platform. Not only autism but various other parts of who Scarlet is – her interest in building, her Filipino /Irish heritage.”

The world tour has provoked some interesting discussion along the way, Nancy reveals, when someone challenged her about the character’s look, pointing at a drawing and  asking “why are her eyes that shape?”

“I discussed that with Jason Harris, who is a fan of graphic literacy being a platform used to spark discussion,” says Nancy. “He himself is autistic. He told me it was a tough situation and, sadly, not all people are understanding of people from different backgrounds – especially when they have multiple backgrounds.”

Nancy remains undaunted in her mission. “That’s who Scarlett is,” she says emphatically, suggesting such questions have prompted new story ideas.

“Scarlett may reply, in a light hearted way, ‘Why are your eyes the way they are?’ Or maybe tell the person straight out, that hurts my feelings when you asked something like that. Or maybe she can run away from the situation upset. and work through it with one of her friends about how that makes her feel bad, that someone would notice her eyes in a negative way.

“The most important part is the reaction that this character has put forth that allows for conversation.”

• To obtain a copy of Kindness Works, email Nancy at Nancy.Archiecomics@gmail.com

• Nancy Silberkleit is online at www.nancysilberkleit.com and on Twitter @nancyeduspeaker | Facebook | Instagram

Read our previous story, Kindness Works, a special Archie Comics project re-visited

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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